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No one knows who first created the Pavlova. But the name and the recipes first began appearing soon after Russian prima ballerina, Anna Matveyevna Pavlova (1881-1931), toured both Australia and New Zealand in 1926 and Australia again in 1929. Anna Pavlova was considered the greatest ballerina of her time and her visit to New Zealand has been described as "the chief event of 1926." It was said "She does not dance; she soars as though on wings." From this you get the sense that this is a light, airy dessert.
There is a conflict between both Australia and New Zealand. While it has been suggested this dessert was created in New Zealand, it has also become recognized as a popular Australian dish. Both countries claim to have invented this dessert and claim it as their national dish.
1926 - Keith Money, a Pavlova biographer, wrote in his 1982 book Anna Pavlova: Her Life and Art that a chef at a hotel in Wellington, New Zealand created the dish when Pavlova visited there in 1926 on her world tour. The hotel chef invented was inspired by her tutu, draped in green silk cabbage roses. The basic shape of the tutu was provided by a meringue case, while the froth of the skirt's net was suggested by whipped cream. To achieve the effect of the green roses the enterprising chef used slices of kiwifruit, then known as Chinese gooseberries.
In New Zealand, a cookbook published in 1926 by E. Futter titled Home Cookery for New Zealand contained a recipe for "Meringue with Fruit Filling." Although the name Pavlova is not used, the recipe is similar.
1927 - According to Volume III (published in 1982) of the supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary to the first published reference to a "Pavlova" was contained in "Davis Dainty Dishes" (sixth edition) published in 1927 by Davis Gelatine New Zealand Ltd. This recipe for pavlova included gelatin.
1929 - In New Zealand, a cookbook published in 1929 by E. Futter titled Home Cookery for New Zealand contained a recipe for “Meringue with Fruit Filling.” Although the name Pavlova is not used, the recipe is similar. Because of this recipe, New Zealanders claim to have originated the recipe. They say that the Australians used this recipe and called it Pavlova.